Elizabeth Sladen was inspired to act at an early age, initially taking dance lessons, and later attending drama school. She then began working for the Liverpool Playhouse, initially as an assistant stage manager, but later as an actress. She took her earliest screen role in 1965, and later appeared in the British soap Coronation Street.
Sladen's best-known role, however, came in 1973, when she joined the cast of the BBC's Doctor Who. Her character -- investigative journalist and the Doctor's companion, Sarah Jane Smith -- proved to be one of the series' most popular, in part because of her work with two of the show's most memorable Doctors, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. Sladen's character became popular in her own right, and her departure from the show in 1976 became front page news.
Sladen returned to Doctor Who in several occasions, first in a pilot for failed spin-off series K-9 and company, and later to the program itself in 1983. She later reprised her role in the 2006 Doctor Who revival, with her last appearance in the 2010 Christmas special. In 2007, she starred in her own spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Outside of Doctor Who, Sladen appeared in numerous stage plays and dramas, notably the BBC's Gulliver in Liliput and ITV's Peak Practice. This was despite her semi-retirement in 1985, after the birth of her daughter Sadie with actor Brian Miller. Sladen passed away on April 19, 2011 after battling cancer for several years.
- Silver Dream Racer (1980)
- Coronation Street (regular, 1970)
- Doctor Who (regular, 1973-1976; recurring, 2006-2010)
- Take My Wife... (regular, 1979)
- Peak Practice (recurring, 1996)
- The Sarah Jane Adventures (regular, 2007-2010)